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DEQ Announces Approximately $1 Million in Available Grants for Water Quality Projects

  • Moira Davin
  • September 08 2023

HELENA—The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is seeking applications for approximately $1 million in funding for nonpoint source pollution reduction projects available under the federal Clean Water Act. Nonpoint source pollution is the single largest cause of water quality impairment in Montana’s lakes and streams, and typically comes from diffuse sources that are not regulated under a discharge permit. 

Nonpoint source water pollution is often associated with land uses such as agriculture, forestry, urban and suburban development, and runoff from abandoned mine sites. Common pollutants include sediment, nutrients, pathogens and toxic metals. In lakes, streams and wetlands, these pollutants can cause serious harm to aquatic life and can make the water unsafe for human recreation and consumption. DEQ monitors water quality in Montana's lakes and streams and identifies water bodies that are impaired. This funding is one way that DEQ works to improve impaired waters across Montana. 

This funding supports the implementation of locally developed watershed restoration plans as well as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved Tribal nonpoint source plans. The plans guide restoration and protection efforts through local engagement. By working with local organizations, DEQ puts communities in the driver’s seat and leverages local knowledge to improve Montana’s lakes, rivers and streams. Nonprofit or government organizations can submit applications for proposed projects that help reduce nonpoint source pollution. Examples of past projects include removing mine waste from streambanks, restoring wetlands and native vegetation along streambanks, supporting Big Sky Watershed Corps members, or working with farmers and ranchers to implement water quality best management practices while protecting their property from flood and drought impacts.

The recommended range for new applications is $10,000 to $250,000 per project, and 40 percent of the total project cost must be matched with non-federal funds. Approximately $500,000 of the available funding will be focused on projects in the lower Gallatin watershed. DEQ focuses funding on a specific watershed and rotates to a different watershed every two or three years. This targeted approach maximizes the cumulative impacts of water quality restoration projects within a watershed while building local capacity to sustain improvements. The remaining $500,000 is open to projects across Montana. DEQ does prioritize some of the funding to administer mini-grant programs for low-cost nonpoint source pollution prevention activities, and local capacity building. 

The application form and instructions can be downloaded from DEQ’s website using the following links: 

2024 Call for Applications 

2024 Application Form – On the Ground Projects - General and Focus Watershed 

2024 Application Form – Supplemental Project Form 

2024 Application Form – Mini- Grant Programs 

All projects must address nonpoint source pollution, and most will need to implement a DEQ-accepted Watershed Restoration Plan or an EPA-approved Tribal nonpoint source plan. DEQ has some funding and technical assistance available for areas that do not have an accepted Watershed Restoration Plan. DEQ staff will be available, upon request, to provide feedback on project applications. A summary of feedback provided by DEQ will be posted to DEQ’s website. The deadline for applications is 5 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6, 2023.

For more information on eligibility and to see current and recent applications, visit the DEQ website at:

Tags: Water quality and Press Release